Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The End of the Eighties, Track 29

“**** (Jungle Law)”
Love and Rockets
Love and Rockets

Appropriating the Signifyin’ Monkey found in African folklore, Love and Rockets apply the trickster persona to a writer “spreading ugly lies like it’s some horrible disease” in “**** (Jungle Law)”. Assuming bad blood between the band and the press adds an extra layer of subtext as the song’s protagonist confronts the “signifying hack,” knocking him around a bit before letting him “go back to the trees” and to his typewriter. But when “the mother” eventually falls to his death, he notes that “there’s a new one in the obituary, and it shows four stars where the name oughta be!”

Musically, Love and Rockets is a 180-degree departure from the folk leanings of their previous album, Earth * Sun * Moon. Peppered with driving, feedback-laden tracks, the album feels considerably harder than anything they produced earlier in the decade.

The album was released just before graduation. It’s one of those CDs that I can tell you exactly where and when I bought it: Magnolia Thunderpussy. Pam and I drove the two hours south to Columbus after prom. We wandered around the Continent and actually ran into John and Julie at the Columbus Museum of Art. (I still have the little card with a black and white image of John Singer Sargent’s Carmela Bertagna on the front and information about the painting on the back that I picked up at the museum that day filed away somewhere with my senior prom mementos.) We also hit the record stores around the Ohio State University campus, and I bought Love and Rockets that afternoon at Magnolia Thunderpussy. I’m certain it was from Thunderpussy and not Singing Dog because for the longest time I actually had the receipt tucked into the CD booklet. In fact, it was probably still in there when I replaced it a decade ago with the two-disc expanded edition. (Replaced again with the new 5 Albums UK set just released earlier this year.)

“Bad Monkey”, a radical reworking of “**** (Jungle Law)” saw the light of day first on the “Glittering Darkness” EP in 1996, and later as a part of the Swing! project finally released on disc two of the Love and Rockets reissue. It’s fairly unremarkable, meandering even, interesting only as an artifact of just how pissed off the trio really was over whoever they were feuding with in the press.

Back in the day, oversized subway posters of alternative bands were all the rage. I had a Love and Rockets one for the song “Motorcycle” off this album mounted on the ceiling of my bedroom at my parents’ house, but I am not sure if it made it to the dorm room at Bowling Green. The weird thing is that I honestly can’t remember where I got the poster. I might have had to special order it from the CD store I worked at, but I can’t be certain. I also had a smaller Love and Rockets poster of the band that might have been Pam’s. That one did make it up to BG and hung over my dorm room desk freshman year.